Irish students looking to study in Britain or Northern Ireland could face large increases in tuition fees if Britain votes to leave the EU tomorrow.
The relationship between British colleges and Irish students would have to be negotiated if Brexit occurs, the Department of Education has said.
EU membership means Irish students can study in Britain or Northern Ireland and pay the same fees as domestic students.
However, Brexit would end this setup and could see Irish students having to apply as international students, incurring fees of €13,000 to €22,000 per year to study in Britain or the North.
The Department of Education says a new arrangement would need to be worked out with British universities and EU students, and that “the Irish government will seek to emphasise our very particular relationship with Northern Ireland and the UK, a fact that is widely understood by our EU partners”.
However, the current relationship would not be guaranteed in the uncertainty of Brexit. Last year 2,085 Irish students went to study in Britain and Northern Ireland according to UCAS, which processes British third-level college applications.
Similarly, CAO figures showed this year 2,193 UK A-level students applied to Irish colleges and universities, up from 2,094 in 2014.
However, in a Brexit scenario Irish students would no longer be able to apply as common EU citizens to the UK, and would have to do so as international students. Tuition fees for international students in Britain and the North range from €13,000 to €22,000 for arts or sciences courses, and €26,000 to €39,000 for clinical courses such as medicine or physiotherapy.
British and Northern Irish students can also take advantage of shared EU membership to study in Ireland and pay the same rates as home students, which is currently €3,000 a year.
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